Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 899–913 | Cite as

Do social networks of female northern long-eared bats vary with reproductive period and age?

  • Krista J. Patriquin
  • Marty L. Leonard
  • Hugh G. Broders
  • Colin J. Garroway
Original Paper

Abstract

Social structure, which is a function of the patterns of interactions among individuals, is particularly variable in fission–fusion societies. The underlying factors that drive this variation are poorly understood. Female northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) live in fission–fusion societies where females form preferred associations within groups that vary daily in size and composition as individuals switch roosts. The goal of our study was to test the predictions that preferred associations and social networks of female northern long-eared bats vary with reproductive period and age. We also tested the prediction that preferred relationships persist across years despite movements from summer roosts to winter hibernacula. Network analyses revealed that during gestation, females roosted in smaller groups where they roosted more regularly with fewer individuals than during lactation. This variation may reflect different social strategies to mediate higher energetic costs during lactation. Females of all ages roosted more often with younger individuals, which in turn had more direct and indirect associations than all other age classes. Younger individuals may play a role in maintaining connections between individuals, perhaps as a result of younger individuals being more exploratory. Temporal analyses suggested that relationships can persist for years as some pairs roosted together for multiple summers. We suggest that the dynamic nature of fission–fusion societies is associated with individual strategies to increase fitness relative to individual characteristics, in this case reproductive condition and age.

Keywords

Associations Bat Fission–fusion Myotis septentrionalis Social networks Social structure 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krista J. Patriquin
    • 1
  • Marty L. Leonard
    • 1
  • Hugh G. Broders
    • 2
  • Colin J. Garroway
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologySaint Mary’s UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate ProgramTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada

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